Seye Odukogbe

Country representing

Nigeria

Education

  • University of Oxford

Current organisation

Cycle to Class

Current role

Founder & CEO

Skills and Expertise

Civil engineering
Data analysis
Education
Information technology
Social entrepreneurship

Areas of interest

Business
Education
Health
Leadership
Sustainable Development

Website & Social Links

I am passionate about

I am most passionate about education, children, rural development and mobility issues. The intersection of these different streams with made me found Cycle to Class Initiative. I founded Cycle to Class initiative to solve this issue of low school attendance in rural areas of Sub-Saharan Africa by distributing bicycles to vulnerable children to enable them to access school, be educated and get the best possible start in life. The distribution of bicycles in rural Nigeria has demonstrated a reduction in school journey times, and an increase in school enrolment and attainment. It started for me during an extended stay in Nigeria on a UK Department for International Development assignment. On the morning drives to different project sites, I would notice children walking long distances on highways and rural roads. This raised questions for me. Why is a ten year old having to brave the dangers of long distance walks to school? The answer to that question led me down a path that was both astonishing and heartbreaking. Growing up in Nigeria, I remember stories my dad would tell when I was young. Stories of adventure, challenges and victory that would later shape my perception towards life as an adult. One of the challenges that came up often was having to walk long distances to school. Now how come after all these years children are still having to walk long distances to school? On leaving university, I worked in the transport and infrastructure sector and with a deep passion for education development in Africa, finding a solution to what I saw as a big problem became a priority for me. The figures are still quite startling. Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children in sub-Saharan Africa, with nearly 10.5 million children out-of-school.

Actions

As the awareness of social mobility crisis in Britain increased, my unrelenting desire to effect socio-economic policies that affect underprivileged youths in the community propelled me to establish ‘Stay Focused’ in 2011. Stay Focused was dedicated to breaking down practical barriers to employability that stand in the way of talented young people. What spurred me into starting Stay Focused, was the “not for the likes of me” syndrome I encountered when meeting young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. These young people did not lack aspiration but access, and I was determined to change that. I developed a bespoke programme with a team of qualified trainers graduates targeting socially excluded young people to help improve their personal, professional and academic skills. During my three years of running Stay Focused, I worked with over 500 young people across the UK; 90% of the young who participated in the program reported an increase in their self-confidence and aspiration. This is demonstrated by a particular female beneficiary from an inner-city London school, who as a result of the program went onto to gain employment at a global cosmetic brand. The said participant told me she almost missed out on her dream of working for a large corporation specialising in beauty because she didn’t know that it was possible for her to have a job in the beauty industry besides that of a hairdresser working for the minimum wage. Another beneficiary, a male student, was assisted in enrolling on A-Level courses suited to his interests and strengths, through our strength and weakness workshops, is now a data scientist with a leading company in London. These are just a few examples of how I have created positive change in impacts in my community and through my organisation.